To Govern and Enslave

Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR 

Given the axiom of self-ownership, there's very little difference between those two verbs. To govern someone is to override his own wishes; he wants to do X, but government commands him to do Y. Likewise, to enslave someone is to override his own plans; he wants to be an Econ Professor and columnist, but the slave-owner commands him to pick cotton, and gets his friends in government to return him for a whipping, should he manage to escape.

Such close similarity of meaning ought to give the one verb an entry in the thesaurus for the other--but I found none, at thesaurus.com--and my hard copy of Roget is no better. Under "govern," the site shows various words of similar meaning including "call the shots," "hold dominion" and even "tyrannize"--but not "enslave." Under "enslave," it shows among others "coerce," "compel" and "subjugate," but not "govern." I wonder why not, but discount any theory suggesting that thesaurus compilers got together to deceive students of the language. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity; and here, the error may even be innocent. Everyone is so conditioned by government's propaganda machine to believe that governance is beneficial but slavery is shocking, that nobody thought to place the words side by side. I'm happy, here, to repair the omission.

It might be said that there is a difference, in that governing is for the public good while slavery benefits only the cruel, greedy master; but that falls apart when we probe a little deeper. Governing brings such a rush of intoxication that men spend fortunes to get elected; its purpose is to enjoy ruling the governed, not arranging for tidy streets and low crime rates. Holding slaves, in contrast, was done to make money, there being no other visible way to find labor to plant and harvest crops (there really was, and they didn't look hard enough, but at least slaves weren't held just for the pleasure of dominating other people). Consider also what happens when governing power is under threat.  Rather than surrender some in 1861, Lincoln waged a war that killed one American in 60, and today Syrian President Assad is killing as many dissidents as is necessary to keep them down, last week by systematically bombing one of "his" own cities. No doubt recalcitrant slaves were executed now and again in the Antebellum South, but such wholesale slaughter was not practised by slaveowners--because to do so would have destroyed what they (falsely) regarded as their own productive assets. So it could even be argued that governance is actually more cruel and vindictive than slavery. At least, the opposite belief is simply not true--however widely held.

Recently there was an interesting discussion in an STR forum, about whether anyone can volunteer to become a slave, were he so foolish as to wish it. My reasoning--for the negative--was that no such transaction is possible because humans are self-owning entities; a person is indivisibly an organism who controls himself. Thus, the vendor would be a self-owning person just before the proposed transfer, and a self-owning person just after the transfer; his offer (of a person to be owned by the buyer) would therefore be fraudulent, or at least void. Thanks to Per Bylund for part of that perception. Out of our discussion, however, came an unexpected result: I realized that total slavery cannot exist--not just in the hypothetical (and oxymoronic) case of voluntary slavery, but also in that of regular slavery enforced by kidnapping and chaining.

The reason is that a self-owning person, an integral whole, consists of his mind as well as his body. He may be forced to do things he does not wish, under threat of violence, but ultimately he remains himself, with his own thoughts and opinions and aspirations and will. No tyrant has yet managed to dominate the inner self. Total slavery would happen if the mind were somehow shorted out--if the body took directions from the new owner, bypassing the brain located between its ears. Try as they have, nobody has quite done that, except in fiction such as The Manchurian Candidate and in theories about the death of RFK.

Test this, if you will, in a couple of real-life examples: the antebellum South, and in the German government's prison camps of the early 1940s. In the former, slaves were terribly treated and exploited. Most of the decisions we take for granted as our own to make, they were forbidden to make. However, they did have some free time to themselves. They could talk together, sing and worship together, usually keep or form families, have children, hold opinions. Sometimes they were even taught to read and write. So, was the self-directing will of a black slave totally taken over? No! He obeyed orders, but only because he was so forced. His mind, or spirit, was still his. In the latter case, much more horrible yet, Elie Wiesel's book Night tells us what it was like. He was in Auschwitz, as a teenager. People were used for slave labor and when not in the factory were kept like animals; this boy was surrounded by death every day. And yet he, like all others until they died, stayed in possession of his identity, his will, his life. He kept a moral compass. His body was grossly maltreated, but his mind was his own. Brutal and inhuman though it was, his enslavement was not total. And when his companions died, in the gas chambers or through exhaustion, they weren't slaves then either, because a dead body does no work for any slave-owner.

So slavery is never total, it is always partial. Now we can consider degrees of enslavement, and compare it with being governed in various degrees.

Clearly those two examples are as near as it gets to complete slavery, in modern times. At the other end of the scale might be the kind of society prevalent in 19th Century America and much of Europe, where government enforced relatively few laws; this was the minimal government favored by Classical Liberals and which laid down, because of its relative freedom, the foundation of America's prosperity. It's the kind of slavery implicit in the program of Ron Paul, were he to be elected and have his way fully.  A great degree of liberty would be restored but government would still remain and overrule the wishes of everyone in several ways, denying the absolute right of each person to determine the whole course of his own life.

Somewhere in between those is what we have today. It's very hard to measure or place on it a percentage share of control. In terms of labor, one might say that whereas a literal slave was enslaved for 100% of the time he worked, we are enslaved for only 50% of the time we work, because all taxes add up to only that much.  But then, we also have freedom to decide what kind of work to do and where to do it, and have quite a lot of control over how we spend its fruits--so by that measure our enslavement is less than 50%. When the huge forest of laws, intrusions, inspections, rules and regulations over our conduct is also taken into account, however, the percentage shoots up again though is not easily expressed as a number. But it might be fair to say that in this country--the most free developed society in the world--we residents are somewhat over 50% enslaved. It's a pretty sick situation. How can it be fixed?

Black slavery in the South could have been ended by economic education. Adam Smith reckoned slavery was never viable, though the owner obviously thought it was. It seemed easy--just pay a price to the kidnappers and shippers, and then pay the cost of feeding, clothing, imprisoning, supervising and maintaining the health of those purchased, and one has a "free" labor force; but it wasn't that simple. A significant part of the total cost of keeping slaves--that of patrolling for escapees and returning them under the Fugitive Slave Act--was borne by the planter's neighbors, via government taxation; in effect, he was enslaving his work force and government was enslaving everyone else to help him do so. So, when he counted his costs, he was only counting some of them; he was not operating in a free market and was therefore receiving false price signals.

Smith's argument was simple, and assumed (of course) that a free market was in operation; he concluded "the work done by free men comes cheaper in the end than the work performed by slaves" and the reason came down to motive. The slave has no motive to work hard--on the contrary, his motive is to do as little work as possible without being whipped. The wage earner does. So whereas the costs of running an enslaved labor force seemed lower than those of employing a free one, the free one always produces more work, so the cost per unit of work is lower...provided all costs are counted, which can be done only when the market is not distorted by the presence of government.

The education needed would have shown that to the planters--and to the rest of the white community, which was paying some of his bills through taxes. The natural result would have been to abolish government or at least curtail it severely, so that the whole cost of enslavement was borne where it belonged; and then the planters would have had good reason to explore other ways to recruit a labor force. It would not have been hard. Europe was full of peasants eager for a way out of generations of poverty, and so were wide open to a good offer including help with travel expenses. That this did not happen is attributable directly to the existence of government; and so is the ensuing disaster of war and all the resentment since.

Can something similar be done now, to end the partial slavery of government? I rather doubt that education of the slave holders (i.e., top politicians) will be able to show them much advantage--for they are in "business" to enjoy the perverted thrill of power, not to make money by growing crops. To reduce that slavery would cut that enjoyment, not raise it. However, educating everyone else will have the desired effect. "Everyone else" has two components: the slaves (us) and the overseers and drivers (drivers were themselves slaves, trusted to help the overseer--a bit like the Judenrat, in the ghettos.)

The purpose of today's needed education is twofold: to prepare the slaves to live free (most folk are reluctant to admit they are enslaved, so are ill equipped to take responsibility for themselves) and to persuade the overseers and drivers to quit their jobs. The same program should suffice for both, and my Transition to Liberty visualizes how it will take effect.

That's how it must be done, in my opinion. It's not the way used in 1861, though abolition was never an objective of that war--just one of its results, and its "justification" after the fact, rather as ending the Holocaust was never the reason WWII was waged, but merely its "justification" after the fact. The violence of the War to Prevent Secession ended America's "peculiar institution," but it was followed by at least a century of resentment and bigotry, forming a much more subtle kind of exclusion, for blacks, from the American promise of freedom and opportunity for all.

Systematic, universal re-education is an infinitely better way.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched http://TinyURL.com/QuitGov , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"

Comments

Scott Lazarowitz's picture

This is a very thought-provoking article. Regarding the notion that an individual couldn't be a slave voluntarily, while I believe in free will and your points make me think a little more about the issue, I still believe that, in a voluntary contract between an individual and others with 100% consent from that individual, he could voluntarily be someone else's slave.

And yes, re-education is the key to de-brainwashing the servile, obedient, government-schooled masses, to convince them through persuasion that they would probably be happier and more fulfilled in a land of freedom rather than under the dictatorship of central planning that we have now.

Also, are you saying that Walter Williams was a slave of the 18th or 19th Century? Is he THAT old?

And, you wrote, "Governing brings such a rush of intoxication that men spend fortunes to get elected." Yes, in 2008, Willard Rmoney spent over $42 million of his own personal wealth to lose in the primary, and he's spending more now to lose to Obama in November. And in 2010 in Commiefornia, Meg Whitless spent over $150 million of her own wealth only to lose to her fellow communist, Jerry Moonbeam.

Suverans2's picture

I think that it is a matter of semantics. Noah Webster (c.1828) clearly demonstrates that with his definitions.

I believe that Jim is using definition number one, while you and I are using definitions two and/or four, (or a slight variation thereof), when we claim that one can voluntarily become a slave. However, if we were to use only definition number one, in its strictest confines, we would probably agree with Jim.

Believing that to be the case, I have given up debating the issue.

"The truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions." ~ Ayn Rand
___________________________________________

[1] MAG'ISTRATE, n. [L. magistratus, from magister, master; magis, major, and ster, Teutonic steora, a director; steoran, to steer; the principal director.] A public civil officer, invested with the executive government of some branch of it. In this sense, a king is the highest or first magistrate, as is the President of the United States.

Your "...highest or first magistrate [master]...is the President of the United States", IF you are a United States citizen (See the 14th Amendment to your Constitution).

Jim Davies's picture

Thank you, Scott!

And no, I instanced Walter to suggest that somewhere on the 18th and 19th Century cotton fields, there was probably a man with the ability to become an Econ Prof, had he not been enslaved. But I think you knew that :-)

Yes, S2, you're right; 100% slavery would mean being "wholly subject to the will of another."

Mark Davis's picture

Jim, the first sentence is a little confusing as self is a noun. I think you were contrasting self-ownership and self-government?

The analogy with slaves pre-1861 is closer than you may believe. The Hollywood version of slaves walking out to the fields in chains as drivers whipped them is a myth; obviously they would not be very productive. Of course, some slave owners were cruel just as some owners of livestock are cruel to their animals; but most slaves were considered valuable assets to be taken care of. Many were also brought up as part of the family raising children, etc. But most were left to work plots of land like serfs. On average about 50% of what they produced went to the owners and 50% to the slaves. Some were even able to use their spare time to work for money which was how many were able to purchase their freedom. When chattle slavery ended and the system morphed into "share-cropping", very little changed. The perpetual debt incurred from trying to work leased farms left many former slaves even worse off than before when they couldn't pay rent. If they tried to skip out on the rent then the sherriff went after them. I think this is a very similar situation to today where taxes and debt payments to pay off money created out of thin air is more than 50% of what we produce, on average.

Jim Davies's picture

Sorry you were confused, Mark. The "two verbs" were of course "Govern" and "Enslave", in the title.

Agreed, treatment of slaves no doubt varied a great deal. But the threat of being whipped was the sanction available, and it was used.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASwhipping.htm has some graphic proof.

Evan's picture

"in this country--the most free developed society in the world"

[citation needed]

By what measure is the USA the "most free?" What compels even radical libertarians to parrot that myth?

Jim Davies's picture

http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking shows the USA as #10 out of 179. All such measures have a subjective component; Singapore is mean about drugs and Hong Kong is very crowded. Australia has its merits but Heritage may not feel as strongly as I do about New Zealand's arrest of Mr Dotcom last month. I've heard well of Chile, but - unlike parrots - am a terrible linguist.

Perhaps I should have written "one of the most free developed societies in the world." I've lived in four developed countries and visited eleven others (twelve, if http://lewrockwell.com/reed/reed226.html satisfies you that Mexico is developed) and will stick with my opinion.

Chris Dates's picture

Jim's on to something when he says it's impossible to voluntarily sell yourself into slavery.

I witness some debates here, and WhiteIndian likes to beg the question, because he assumes "self ownership" only refers to the human body, but it's so much more than that. Like Jim says it's also the human mind, but it's also owning all of the actions that the body and mind create; it's owning the consequences of those actions. NOTHING will ever change that. Nothing.

Hey WhiteIndian, why are you making slavery sound so bad?

Tell me, if I sell myself into slavery, therefore transferring ownership of all that is ME over to the new owner, what's to stop me from killing the new owner of me? How would that not be suicide? Hell, I'd do that ALL day long! Quick way to make a buck I'd say.

Oh that doesn't sound right to you? Well, you might say I still retain ownership of the actions and consequences. Ahhhh...now you see exactly why it's impossible to sell yourself into slavery.

BrianDrake's picture

Jim,

It seems that you are defining ownership as the ability to control, when the more common definition used among libertarians is that ownership is the exclusive RIGHT to control.

I may own my car (disregard the state for this example), and thus have a right (i.e., it would be unjust to interfere with me) to get inside it and directly control it to drive where I want. If I lend my car to a friend for a long-distance trip, I still own the car, but since it is now outside my direct control, I don't have the ability to control it. If I change my mind, I can call my friend and request the car returned (since, as the owner, I have the right to control the car; i.e., I have the final authority over its use), but until I am physically behind the wheel again, I do not have the ability to control the car. With a simple example like this, it seems clear to me that "ability to control" is an inferior definition of ownership and that "exclusive right to control" is more accurate and useful.

So, barring literal mind-control like "The Manchurian Candidate", everyone realizes that the body still responds to the direct control of the slave's mind. No master or concentration camp guard ever claimed the "ability to control" the slave/prisoner's body. Instead, the essence of slavery is that the master, by claiming ownership of the slave, claims the exclusive RIGHT to control the slave (i.e., that he may not be justly prevented from enforcing his authority over that person).

Self-ownership is not a declaration/recognition of function ("only I can wiggle my toes"), it is a declaration/recognition of jurisdiction ("I alone am the final authority on the use of my body".)

Since no slave master ever (to my knowledge) possessed the ability to directly control the slave's body in contradiction to the slave's mind, if ownership is "the ability control", then there has never been such a thing as slavery. If a "slave" was presented with the choice "obey the master or be whipped", it was still the "slave" that chose to move his body to obey.

But instead, if you accept that ownership is the exclusive right to control, then slavery is meaningful. Recognizing self-ownership means you recognize that a person may have final authority over their body and that any interference with that authority would be unjust. Recognizing slavery would be to consider unjust any interference (which includes disobedience) with the master's orders regarding the slave's body.

In this light, I see it as being inaccurate to talk about "degrees of slavery" (and inversely, "degrees of liberty"). If we're talking about the "ability" to control, then the degree of slavery is basically always 0%, since the "slave's" mind still has 100% control over their body. But if we're talking about the exclusive right to control, then you cannot be partially enslaved and partially self-owning. Someone has the final authority (i.e., interference with this authority would be unjust). If it is you, then you have liberty (self-ownership). If it is not you, then you are a slave. Liberty/slavery clearly seem to me to be binary and mutually exclusive (antithetical - Slavery = not liberty. Liberty = not slavery).

The degree of leniency of the master does not diminish that the final authority is still his, not yours. You don't have "2/7 liberty" if the master gives you the weekends off. He may be affording you some "freedom", or granting you "liberties", but as long as the final authority over you is the master, you have ZERO liberty.

Likewise, the degree of leniency of a state does not diminish the state's claim of final authority over all those within its declared jurisdiction; i.e., that the state owns them. When boiled down to the essence of the matter, I think it is absolutely accurate to recognize statism as slavery.

In fact, since slave masters were themselves subjects ("citizens") of states, they themselves were slaves. The "private" ownership of slaves under statism is thus exposed as a false concept, since the claimed final authority within a state's territory is the state. If I have final authority over you, and you buy a slave, I ultimately have final authority over him too and it cannot be said that you truly own him, since you are already owned yourself. "Slavery" was simply the allowance, by the state, for some state-owned-slaves to have more direct authority over other state-owned-slaves.

Can you sell yourself into slavery? If you are talking about transferring the "right to control", then I think this is clearly possible. If you are talking about transferring the "ability to control", it does not seem that technology is at that point...yet.

Suverans2's picture

Hopefully what you have written here will help to clear up, for some, at least, the confusion between "rights" and "abilities". Thank you, Brian Drake.

"I had the right to remain silent... but I didn't have the ability." ~ Ron White

Paul's picture

"In this light, I see it as being inaccurate to talk about "degrees of slavery" (and inversely, "degrees of liberty"). If we're talking about the "ability" to control, then the degree of slavery is basically always 0%, since the "slave's" mind still has 100% control over their body. But if we're talking about the exclusive right to control, then you cannot be partially enslaved and partially self-owning. Someone has the final authority (i.e., interference with this authority would be unjust). If it is you, then you have liberty (self-ownership). If it is not you, then you are a slave. Liberty/slavery clearly seem to me to be binary and mutually exclusive (antithetical - Slavery = not liberty. Liberty = not slavery)."

Yes, I too have problems with this "government equals slavery" argument. Slavery is clearly not equivalent to having a government; instead it is an analogy, just like Molyneux's farm animal analogy. We are not literal slaves any more than we are literal farm animals. This explains why the thesaurus does not equate them - they aren't equivalent.

As an analogy, we can reasonably say "we are treated like slaves" in some respect. We can't reasonably say "we are slaves".

The other problem with saying "we are slaves" is that it doesn't resonate with the audience, while "we are treated like slaves" does resonate. So I would advise people not to go overboard with this stuff. When you see peoples' eyes glazing over, that's a clue...

Paul's picture

Oh, one other nit: I think it is better to choose analogies that serve us rather than serving the ruling class, as I mentioned in this article: http://strike-the-root.com/some-problems-with-farm-analogy The ruling class probably would be happy if we started thinking of ourselves as slaves. It probably would be unhappy if we started thinking of them as parasites.

Chris Dates's picture

BrianDrake,

Your example of the owning a vehicle is inadequate in this context. If you own a vehicle, YOU do, indeed, have the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT to control it. Meaning that you have the FINAL say in the matters that involve your vehicle. This is not the case involving the slave, because the slave has still retained the exclusive right to control his body; he is still the supreme authority of his domain; his body. You even admit to as much.

When you use the phrase "exclusive right", we can clearly see that it is, in fact, impossible to sell yourself into slavery, because the new owner of you will never have the "exclusive right to contol" you.

That's why "self-ownership" is different than the ownership of other objects. "Self" is more than just the human body. Your example of the vehicle is correct when giving examples of "the exclusive right to control", but when it's placed in the context of an actual human, you are begging the question.

Chris Dates's picture

BrianDrake,

If you were to sell me that car you mentioned, I would have the exclusive right to all that makes up that car; every single nut & bolt, all the wiring, and the engine and drivetrain, etc. You would be transferring 100% ownership over to me; everything that makes up that car is now mine.

This is not the case with human beings, because you will never own 100% of what makes me, well.....me. A slave can still object to the will of the master, the car can't. Since the slave retains the ability and the RIGHT to object, the master will never have the "exclusive right" to control.

Can the slave still be held responsible for his acts? Would the slave be relieved of all things moral? Would the master be held responsible for the acts of the slave? No?

Then the master does not have the "exclusive right", and this is why ownership of yourself cannot be transferred.

Let's go back to your example of the car. If you loaned your car to a friend and your friend killed someone with it, then your friend would be at fault. If you loaned your slave to a friend, and your slave killed someone, who would be at fault?

Of course the slave would. This is why the example of the car is not right. The slave can never be relieved of the consequences of his acts, good or bad, they are HIS acts, HE OWNS them. They cannot be transferred to anyone else.

If I were to sell myself into slavery, I would make sure the contract explicitly stated that I am now relieved of all things moral, and only my master would pay the price for my acts. Then I would just turn and kill my so-called master.

Now who's the sucker?

Suverans2's picture

"Since the slave retains the ability and the RIGHT to object, the master will never have the "exclusive right" to control." ~ Chris Dates

First:

    Slavery is also voluntary or involuntary; voluntary, when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another; involuntary, when he is placed under the absolute power of another without his own consent. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

If we don't take this to ridiculous levels, voluntary slavery is, according to Noah, "when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another". This means he has voluntarily relinquished the "right" to object, nothwithstanding that he still has the "ability" to do so.

Involuntary slavery is theft, which is why it is called "man stealing".

    Manstealing, n. The act or business of stealing or kidnaping human beings, especially with a view to eslave them. ~ Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 Edition, page 892

Theft does not effect the "right" of ownership, only the "ability" to control the thing, or person, that has been stolen.

And this, in my opinion...

    "If I were to sell myself into slavery, I would make sure the contract explicitly stated that I am now relieved of all things moral, and only my master would pay the price for my acts. Then I would just turn and kill my so-called master. Now who's the sucker?" Chris Date

...is utter foolishness, (only a fool would agree to such a "contract"), and as such, deserves only this response.

Chris Dates's picture

>>Slavery is also voluntary or involuntary; voluntary, when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another; involuntary, when he is placed under the absolute power of another without his own consent. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
If we don't take this to ridiculous levels, voluntary slavery is, according to Noah, "when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another". This means he has voluntarily relinquished the "right" to object, nothwithstanding that he still has the "ability" to do so.

Ummm...you are wrong. The slave did NOT relinquish the "right" to object because the slave is still part of the morality pool. Get it? If I sold myself into slavery, and my master commanded me to murder, I would still have the RIGHT(yes the freakin' RIGHT) to object, because it's morally wrong to murder. Do you get that? It's not ridiculous, you are just failing to grasp the deeper philosophical point I am trying to make. So, again, he has the ability as well as the RIGHT, to object on the grounds of morality, because the slave did not relieve himself from morality when he signed his foolish contract. Do you at least agree with this? I don't care what Noah has to say about it.

The only way the master can have "absolute command" of another is if he assumes all responsibility for the slave's acts. Hence my argument here wich you charged as utter foolishness....

>>"If I were to sell myself into slavery, I would make sure the contract explicitly stated that I am now relieved of all things moral, and only my master would pay the price for my acts. Then I would just turn and kill my so-called master. Now who's the sucker?" Chris Date
...is utter foolishness, (only a fool would agree to such a "contract"), and as such, deserves only this response.

And my last name is not "Date" please correct your error.

Suverans2's picture

Aggressive, aren't we Chris Dates. Sorry about the typo, and I will try not to bother you again. Have a great day.

Chris Dates's picture

Suverans2,

I was not meaning to be aggressive in my posts, and I apologize if my tone could have been taken as such. Let's get back to the issue.

When phrases and words like "exclusive right", and "absolute command" are used, I will challenge these things, because if I don't then it is assumed that these things are true, and the argument will begin from there. I will not let you get away with begging the question, sorry.

If it is possible for another human to have "exclusive rights" over another human, fine, prove it without using logical fallacies.

I have exclusive rights and absolute command over my car. If I put a brick on the gas pedal and run my car into a group of people, then I am responsible for my acts. If I tell my slave to go and slaughter that same group of people, and he does, HE is responsible for it.

He can only be responsible if he has ownership of his acts, and in order for him to have ownership of his acts, he has to have ownership of himself, and this can never be sold.

A human being cannot disown their consequences. Period. Therefore, they cannot sell themselves into slavery. It's impossible. So we don't commit anymore fallacies, what does "self" mean to you? We've defined ownership, now let us define "self".

Jim Davies is right in his essay.

Samarami's picture

An axiom of business and sales is this: Nobody, NOBODY does a thing unless and until s/he wants to do it. (Sort of the sequel to, "The customer is always right)

Sam

Suverans2's picture

G'day Sam,

We are not talking about "business and sales" here, we're talking law. ;)

    Actus me invito factus, non est meus actus. An act done by me against my will, is not my act. ~ Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary

Imagine, if you can, someone putting a gun to one of my Grandchild's heads and commanding me to rob a bank for him. I realize that I can still choose to rob or not to rob, but would you say that robbing that bank is something I want to do, or would you say that I am being coerced, "against my will", into doing it?

Chris Dates's picture

Suverans2,

You are using words like "ridiculous" and "foolishness" then you accuse me of being "aggressive". Please focus on the argument, and not so much on me. I would just like you to defend your definition and your position.

>>Slavery is also voluntary or involuntary; voluntary, when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another; involuntary, when he is placed under the absolute power of another without his own consent. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language
"If we don't take this to ridiculous levels, voluntary slavery is, according to Noah, "when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another". This means he has voluntarily relinquished the "right" to object, nothwithstanding that he still has the "ability" to do so."

Are you unwilling to defend the definition you provided? The definition EXPLICITLY states "absolute command". It is "ridiculous" to take it to "absolute" levels? If my master commands me to murder, do I have to follow the command absolutely?

Yes or no.

Does a voluntary slavery contract exclude either party from morality?

If the voluntary slave retains the right to object on moral grounds, then the master does not have "exclusive rights" to the slave.

The final arbiter in the matter is the slave.

Suverans2's picture

Chris Dates,

I sincerely apologize if I offended you with my use of those two words. Please know that they were not in reference to you, personally.

Your master cannot, LAWFULLY, command you to do anything that is unlawful, that is to say, against the "natural law of the human world". If he does, and then forces you to do such an act, he should be held accountable for the act, and not you.

The Maxim of Law that a JUDGE, in your jurisdiction, should use in ITS decision is this:

    Actus me invito factus, non est meus actus. An act done by me against my will, is not my act. ~ Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary

Perhaps we all are using the wrong word?

The XIII Amendment to your Constitution, (presuming you are a 14th Amendment citizen), is worded in the following way, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

The inverse of that is that voluntary servitude may constitutionally "exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Would "voluntary servitude" be a more agreeable phrase, to you?

    Servitude. The state of a person who is subjected, voluntarily or otherwise, to another person* as his servant. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c. 1991), page 1370

* I believe you will find that the STATE is a "legal person".

    Involuntary servitude. The condition of one who is compelled by force, coercion, or imprisonment, and against his will, to labor for another, whether he is paid or not.
Chris Dates's picture

Suverans2,

All I'm saying is that there might be a problem with the "voluntary slavery" theory. I don't think it's possible, if we assume there is some sort of moral law. I want to keep the focus on voluntary slavery; not chattel or forced slavery, because I think we agree on that issue.

Let's go back to your definition...

>>Slavery is also voluntary or involuntary; voluntary, when a person sells or yields his own person to the absolute command of another; involuntary, when he is placed under the absolute power of another without his own consent. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

Then you said...

"Your master cannot, LAWFULLY, command you to do anything that is unlawful, that is to say, against the "natural law of the human world". If he does, and then forces you to do such an act, he should be held accountable for the act, and not you."

This is a contradiction, because you are counting on the slave and the master already agreeing that there is a natural law of the human world, and they have both agreed upon it(implicitly or explicitly). If these two parties have agreed on the governing principles of "natural law" and choose to do business under these laws, then neither party could ever have "absolute command" of each other. Words have meanings, and "absolute" is a big one. One might say that voluntary slavery is possible in the context of the natural law, and the slave owner may have "absolute command" within the context of this law, but then it's not absolute is it?

It is wrong to place humans--autonomous, volitional, conceptualizing creatures--in the same context as someone's vehicle as BrianDrake did. No other "property"(as if another human could ACTUALLY be property of another) has the ability to conceptualize morality, and that makes 100% ownership a real bitch. Libertarians tend to be a "either I own it or I don't" bunch, and this is impossible with human beings; we use the law of the excluded middle to show others how taxation is theft; 1% tax is just as wrong as 100% tax; 1% theft is just as wrong as 100% theft. This means I own something 100% or I don't own it at all. Since the voluntary slave has the right to object on moral grounds, or on the grounds of natural law, I don't have "exclusive rights" to the voluntary slave. He retains some rights. If BrianDrake was to sell me that car, he would lose all rights to it, but if he was to sell me a slave, my new "property", the slave, would retain some rights, and that just does not sound right to me.

Before we apply libertarian property rights theory to human beings we have to examine the nature of the "property", because it is much different than other property. Do you agree?

I also realize I am begging the question assuming the voluntary slave has the right to object on the grounds of morality, but I can make a pretty good case for it, and defend the position if I had to(but it tends to be a long one!).

I've heard minarchists reject anarchy on these grounds, so I ran their argument through the logic mill and found some errors. I don't think it's possible. What do you think?

Oh and BTW, I am assuming that you are not from this country, but I will tell you this...

"My Constitution" is just as much yours as it is mine! :-)

Suverans2's picture

Chris Dates,

Let's jump to that last one, first. What is your Constitution? If it is the United States Constitution; from whence did you, or your government, get the lawful authority to compel me to continue one of a political corporation?

Suverans2's picture

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." ~ Excerpted from the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants citizenship to everyone born in the US and subject to its [political] jurisdiction.

I am not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof", because my allegiance is to the natural law, the "laws of nature [the "natural law of the human world"] and nature's God".

Quod prius est verius est; et quod prius est tempore potius est jure. What is first is truest; and what comes first in time, is best in law. Co. Litt. 347. ~ Bouvier's Law Dictionary (c.1856)  [Emphasis added]

"This law of nature being coeval[1] with mankind[2]" is, of course, "first in time", thus it is "best in law".

The law of nature is superior in obligation to any other. It is binding in all countries and at all times. No human laws are valid if opposed to this, and all which are binding derive their authority either directly or indirectly from it. ~ Institutes of American Law by John Bouvier, (c.1851), Part I, Title II, No. 9
________________________________________________________

[1] COEVAL, a. Of the same age; beginning to exist at the same time; of equal age; usually and properly followed by with. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language [Emphasis added]

[2] 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries at 41

Chris Dates's picture

Suverans2,

How did this just become an argument about the Constitution(of these united States)?

Again with the fallacies.

You are the one that used the phrases, "your Constitution", and, "your government". Then you accuse me of pushing it on you? Wow.

We are now far afield of the original argument, and I have no desire to debate "my constitution" or "my government" with you. Mr. Spooner has already done that for me.

Do you have any desire to get back to the original argument?

Suverans2's picture

Chris Dates,

Ummm, it didn't become an argument about the Constitution (of these united States), in my opinion. But, I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion about this statement from you, ""My Constitution" is just as much yours as it is mine! :-)" If you are not a citizen of the United States, then I must apologize, once again.

Not sure what "fallacies" you are referring to.

Yes, I am the one that used the phrase, "your Constitution"", followed by "(presuming you are a 14th Amendment citizen)", which admits that you may not be. And, yes, I am the one that used the phrase "or your government", because I didn't know if it was you making the claim that, it was just as much mine as yours, "or your government", if you have one, that was making that claim.

Nope, no desire to get back to the original argument. I agree, old Noah's use of the word "absolute" is apparently inappropriate. If we hold that word to its strictest interpretation then there is no such thing as slavery, period.

I am absolutely mortified by this...well, not "absolutely", in the strictest sense of the word. :-)

Chris Dates's picture

Suverans2,

Well, I think involuntary slavery can still be very possible. A person can still be held by force, and made to perform acts that are not of their own will. However, this is very different than voluntary slavery, which I would assume would be contractual. Think about this, if there was a voluntary contact between the "slave" and the "master" then there would be some kind of governance over the two parties: there would be "rules" for the relationship. Therefore, the master could never have "exclusive rights" or "absolute command" over the slave, because the contract was specifically drawn up to preserve the rights of either party.

There is still problem even if the person just tried to sell himself into slavery with no contract, and here is why: In involuntary slavery, the master has chosen to use aggressive force to take the slave, therefore he has abandoned all moral human law to take this slave. This is VERY IMPORTANT to consider when comparing the concepts of voluntary and involuntary slavery. The master has essentially chosen to become a thug, and has chosen to use the way of force and not of reason. Since this is the case, this master has come a little closer to that "absolute command" we were tallking about, since he has already shown himself to be aggressive. But this is much different than the voluntary slave, and here is why...

The voluntary slave is basically offering his "services" on the market. We are begging the question if we just assume any potential new master of this so-called slave would be willing to break moral human law(natural law), and take him as a slave with "absolute command", and that is our problem. There has been no crime yet, because there has been no aggression. The master of the involuntary slave has chosen to use aggression to force another to perform acts against their will, so it is not unreasonable to say that this master may severely hurt, rape, or even murder this chattel slave. When the voluntary slave offers his services on the market, he is still assuming that their new master will abide by moral natural law, BECAUSE it does not stand to reason that the voluntary slave would offer their services otherwise. Think about that, why would they? If the new master could potentially severely harm, rape, or murder them, WHY would they ever offer their services on THAT market? The voluntary slave would be offering immorality for sale on the market if they did not assume that the natural law would stay in place as they agreed upon the voluntary slavery conditions. Why would any rational human being enter into a contract where death would forever be a very real possibility?

Agreements do not relieve either party from morality. Period. Putting immorality for sale on the market does not make it moral.

"Voluntary slavery" is a contradiction in terms, and dig this, voluntary slavery is impossible because involuntary slavery is possible. I hope that makes sense. It's just like the difference between aggression and reason; morality and immorality.

Suverans2's picture

Chris Dates,

"Nope, no desire to get back to the original argument." So, if I'm not there, start without me. ;-)

Chris Dates's picture

Well, at least /I/ was enjoying the conversation! :-)

Cheers.

Suverans2's picture

Chris Dates,

That was said with no animosity, and with just a bit of humor, hence the wink.

And, because of our conversation I am now re-reading The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de la Boétie, (one of my favorite authors).

    There are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake it off: these are the men who never become tamed under subjection and who always, like Ulysses on land and sea constantly seeking the smoke of his chimney, cannot prevent themselves from peering about for their natural privileges and from remembering their ancestors and their former ways. These are in fact the men who, possessed of clear minds and far-sighted spirit, are not satisfied, like the brutish mass, to see only what is at their feet, but rather look about them, behind and before, and even recall the things of the past in order to judge those of the future, and compare both with their present condition. These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them by study and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it. For them slavery has no satisfactions, no matter how well disguised. ~ Excerpted from The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de la Boétie

And, cheers to you, too.

Jim Davies's picture

I'm wondering why the 14th Amendment made any difference to our status as selfowning human beings.

Sources like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eskimo_words_for_snow say that the Sami people of the far North of Scandinavia use several hundred different words for "snow;" wet and heavy, light and fluffy, glazed, and so on. Governments, likewise, use many different words to try to justify their miserable existence; divinely appointed monarchies, heroic "leaders", constitutionally limited ones, and in this case, if I understand you, Suversans2, something like a group of thugs fronting for a financial oligarchy better known as a "corporation."

All these purport to govern, and therefore all of them enslave; that's the point of my article. It granted that there are degrees of slavery (and therefore of savagery in government) but government is government no matter the degree, just as snow is snow no matter the style. All of it it totally irreconcilable with selfowning human nature, and therefore all of it must go; and it won't go voluntarily, Am 14 or no Am 14. Government's name for me (citizen, employee, resident subject to its jurisdiction, civilian, etc etc) is irrelevant; my real name is only what I call myself and so it is for each of us.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Jim Davies,

As I understand it, prior to the 14th Amendment, legally speaking, there was no such legal entity, i.e. artificial person, as a "citizen of the United States"; citizens, prior to that, were citizens of their respective States, only.

    "Citizens" are members of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have established or submitted themselves to the dominion of [the U.S.] government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as their collective rights". Herriott v. City of Seattle, 81 Wash.2d 48, 500 P.2d. 101, 109.

Dominion is defined, in Black's Law Dictionary (c.1991), as "perfect control in right of ownership".

This is the primary reason I have chosen to "withdraw from membership" in any, and all, "political communities" known as the STATE OF ______________, and the UNITED STATES (See 15 (a)); I do not consent to anyone, or group of one's, having "dominion" over my person or the fruits of my labor. Another reason I have withdrawn from membership in the "political community" is that I do not want my name (authority), in any way, associated with the unlawful actions of these groups.

None of their agents have ever put a gun to my head and tried to force, (vi et armis), membership on me, but they certainly have tried to bribe me with their "dainties", i.e. membership benefits and privileges, mainly by making life 'uncomfortable' without them.

    When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

    Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.

    Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil...

Sound advice, in my opinion.

Suverans2's picture

Now, in response to the second part of your reply, I would ask you, do you think that men have the right to "submit themselves to the dominion of a government", if that is what they desire?

(I believe, from experience, that most of them do, whether they admit it or not when asked that question plainly.)

Second question; if your answer was "yes", to my first question, then who are you to say, "all of it must go"? In other words, what authority do you have to force those who desire a government, to live without a government?

The only humans I have any lawful authority over is me, and anyone who voluntarily consents to be under my protection; and the same holds true for me, the only humans that have lawful authority over me are those who receive my voluntary consent, and, once more, for the record, I do not consent.

Your "real name is only what [you] call yourself". Very good! That means, that you always check the "No" box, before signing, when asked, "Are you a U.S. citizen?" or "Are you a citizen of the STATE OF______________?", otherwise you are also calling yourself, "U.S. citizen" or "citizen of the STATE OF ___________".

Darkcrusade's picture

The borrower is slave to the lender.

I look upon the Constitution as the most fatal plan that could be possibly be conceived to enslave a free people-Patrick Henry.

''The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payments of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion' -- this is the important thing -- 'shall not be questioned.''

CONSTITUTOR, civil law. He who promised by a simple pact to pay the debt of another; and this is always a principal obligation. Inst. 4, 6, 9.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0NnayDjUS4

Suverans2's picture

Yes, which is why the Yisra'elites [sovereigns of God] were supposed to be "strangers and sojourners" in the land.

Strangers. ...In its general legal signification the term is opposed to the word "privy". Those who are in no way parties to the covenant or transaction nor bound by it, are said to be strangers to the covenant or transaction. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 1421

And, if one is a stranger he is, "...one who, in no event resulting from the existing state of affairs, can become liable for the debt and whose property is not charged with the payment thereof and cannot be sold therefor". (Ibid.)

painkilleraz's picture

Interesting, why argue levels of slavery?

Very similar to the arguments of how badly one can be raped, according to the justice system one can be date raped, gang raped, marital raped, incestual raped, child sexual abuse, prison raped, acquaintance raped, war raped and statutory raped. And the best part is, punishment varies for each one.

So lets look to slavery, or do you really want to go there?

Slavery is slavery is slavery, just as rape is rape is rape. You can stand on your philosophical high tower and claim some brilliant insight into how your only a little bit of a slave or you can simply admit you are a slave, WITHDRAW as much consent as you possibly can without causing harm to your family (if you have a family) or you can make a decision as an individual to withdraw all consent and drop out of the system completely.

The following section of this post has been adjusted to be less offensive to the delicate natures of those reading.

Chris Dates, slavery is slavery. Rape is rape. Murder is Murder. No amount of voting or conceding or acceptance will change what is. (I understand he did not say he supports slavery, and yet, he has supported voting...hence the use of his name directly for the preceding statement)

(this section was meant generally, hence the use of "side note") - And as a side note, it is a fallacy that we are "voluntary slaves" I DID NOT at any point sign my life over to this government. In fact I have resisted that, and continue to do so.

Chris Dates's picture

PKAZ,

Never did I say that rape was not rape, and slavery was not slavery.

We were speaking about a hypothetical situation where smeone could voluntarily sell themselves into slavery. In case you missed it, I said "voluntary slavery" was a contradiction in terms, and I believe I laid out a pretty good case as to why it is. Sheesh.

If you are going to make these charges, at least bullet point them and address them, because you seem to take joy in constantly singling me out. That's getting really old. I never even mentioned voting, or conceding, or acceptance; we talikng about a hypothetical situation.

painkilleraz's picture

And yet you support voting for exactly the reasons I outlined. :)

Chris, read what you have written, unlike religionists and statists I read what is written based on words used not "feelings and interpretations" regardless, why so touchy?

I wasnt attacking, or even being "cruel" but simply stating a simple fact. One cannot vote and be free (Voting is agreeing with the slavers- we disagree on this), you cannot be a voluntary slave ("we" on this) and there is no liberty with forced servitude. :)

So you see your argument is fallacious, you simply believe in a smaller amount of slavery, than other statists. ;) You say slavery is wrong, but voting is right...justify that using the slavery argument. Or support slavery, either way your arguments are and have become unfortunately at cross purposes i.e. fallacious in nature.

However, unlike yourself and others I know I will offer something never recieved. If I offended your sensibilities by speaking bluntly, my apologies :)

**And please argue on your own merit if you decide to respond, I tire of hearing others adopt some other persons stance and say it is theirs, where is the individuality and liberty in that?

Chris Dates's picture

"**And please argue on your own merit if you decide to respond, I tire of hearing others adopt some other persons stance and say it is theirs, where is the individuality and liberty in that?"

WHAT????

You accuse me of borrowing others ideas???

Do you know how long it took me to work on the "voluntary slavery" argument, and how I showed it was fallacious?

Why don't you stop talking about it, and produce evidence that I stole someone else's idea? How dare you accuse me of being dishonest without proof! Who's the dishonest one? That argument is mine, I thought that up.

painkilleraz's picture

I am accusing you of inconsistent approaches not dishonesty.

The ** thing generally shows that it is in addition too, and not the main point, and after thought if you will. Since most (liberty minds) arguments regarding slavery and voting tend to come back to whichever dead scholar they appreciate most. ;) It has nothing to do with you directly or your argument, more a suggestion given.

Pps, Chris, this is why I left the forums, I tire of the insolent bullshit from many there. I know you are a good person, but honestly, I tire of the bullshit. Stop misinterpreting what I am saying, or at least apologize when you get caught doing it.

Chris Dates's picture

Just for the record, Jesse--you called me out by name--in your first post on this specific thread.

And stop going back and adding to your posts after I have already responded, because THAT is dishonest.

I'm done.

painkilleraz's picture

Didnt you read my adjustments, I clearly stated why I changed them- I dont want to offend delicate persons ;)

Not dishonest, actually very honest. And clearly shown...described...labeled...outlined...bolded (not sure how you will define those words so it is necessary to add as many similar as possible)

Suverans2's picture

How about "voluntary servitude"; can I, because I own my body, mind, soul [the life within it] and the fruit of my labor, voluntarily become someone's "servant", in your opinion?

painkilleraz's picture

We can serve whomever we wish, this by itself is not slavery.

Slavery is slavery, servitude is servitude.

A servant is paid for their labors, or completes a task willingly and with complete knowledge of the task at hand. A slave is not paid for their labors, their labors or the fruits of their labors are stolen from them without just recompense or willing acceptance.

Tax slaves are as much slaves as those working the diamond mines in Africa. Sure they may not live as close to starvation, but the result is the same. Any attempt to rebel, flee or stop being a slave is met with force.

Suverans2's picture

G'day painkilleraz,

You might want to look at theses 47 resources to see how many of them equate servitude with slavery.

http://www.strike-the-root.com/comment/reply/46156/5403